Dear Susan Sarandon, What’s It Like To Be So Cool?

Photo: Tony Barson/Getty Images.
When we look at Susan Sarandon, our first thought is #goals. The woman has class, sass, and one of the most diverse list of accomplishments — actress, humanitarian, ping pong enthusiast — in all of Hollywood.
Sitting down with the star, who is a celebrity ambassador for L'Oréal, feels like a crash course in being a total boss — she's down-to-earth, speaks her mind, and DGAF what haters have to say. Like we said, #goals. Want to bask in that badassery? Well, you're in luck: We spent some time (10 minutes and 29 seconds, if you want to get specific) with the star at the Cannes Film Festival (where she was celebrating, alongside co-star Geena Davis, the 25-year anniversary of Thelma & Louise) and she had PLENTY to say on everything from aging to activism and channeling Bette Davis, a.k.a. heaven. We can die happy now.
What made you want to become a spokesperson for a beauty brand — it doesn't seem like the most natural addition to your already extensive résumé. What drew you to L'Oréal?
"Well I wanted to know who they were. For me, there was a great moment with [the brand's slogan] 'because I'm worth it.' It was a whole new framing for beauty products. I think that's very important and I met with all these different women and it seemed like a very friendly group to get in with. I like their program [Women of Worth] that they have for women and they seem to be really socially conscious. And they didn't want me to change who I was. That was a plus."
What about the term "anti-aging"? How does that make you feel?
"I mean, I did get a lot of flack for some of the line[s in the ads], but I don't think of it as anti-aging. You're very lucky to age. If [you aren't], you're dead! Aging is a good thing. I think it means staying healthy. I think there's something about not giving up and becoming invisible, which is what our society has a tendency to do. I hear women [of a certain age] talking about becoming invisible. My interpretation of anti-aging means anti-becoming invisible.
"When people talk about my skin [being] in good shape...I'm very simple in terms of maintenance, I'm not somebody who does a lot of different things, but what I don't do is smoke cigarettes and I think if you're young and you're smoking in your 20s, in 20 years, your skin is going to show it. Or if you're drinking too heavily! I think paying attention to a lifestyle is really important. And a certain kind of generosity of spirit.
"The thing that bothers me is when I see runway shows with these young women who are wearing fabulous clothes that are gorgeous and they look so unhappy. When did that start? In fashion shows, everyone has to look so pissed off. I remember Todd Oldham shows used to be fun! I was somewhere where the models were standing around and everyone was going around them and I said, 'Why don't you let them have their cell phones, so at least they're doing something.' I don't know what's happened where that's an idea of beauty. That's the kind of thing you shouldn't be selling — this idea that if you're so gorgeous and too skinny and wearing fabulous everything, you're pissed off. Why do you have to be so angry? I don't understand."

I don't think of it as anti-aging because you're very lucky to age. If [you aren't], you're dead! Aging is a good thing.

Susan Sarandon
You've talked before about the importance of social impact around beauty and we've seen beauty ideals slowing begin to shift. Why do you think that's important?
"I think that anything that gives people the opportunity to love who they are and to maintain their self-esteem [is important]. It's very important to not have beauty defined so narrowly, because it cuts into people's self-image.
"Hopefully, by the time you're my age, you've figured something out. But especially when you're younger and you're trying to look around, in movies your heroes are all white and heterosexual males. Your president has been a white heterosexual male! It's a big thing to look in the White House and see a Black family. It's a big thing to see women lawyers and doctors, [women] solving crimes and not just arm candy. All of those things subtly define you. All the images that you put out are helping to shape the world. So, if L'Oréal is expanding their representatives to be all ages and all colors and all shapes and sizes, I think that's really smart."
Variety recently reported on Feud, the Ryan Murphy anthology on the infamous relationship between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Can you talk a bit about that?
"Everyone's so excited. I'm kind of terrified, because I have no idea what I have to do with this demanding part and I've only seen a few scripts. I know Jessica [Lange, who is playing Joan Crawford] and I'm very excited to work with her and with Ryan.
"The idea of it, it started out as a film that was offered to me by him a long time ago. It just seemed to be kind of a one-joke movie, but what he's developed it into is really the study of how, if at all, is Hollywood different now than back then in terms of women — what's asked of women and how women are manipulated. He's going to have half of [the episodes] directed by women. It's a limited series. The next season will be a different feud."

It's very important to not have beauty defined so narrowly, because it cuts into people's self-image.

Susan Sarandon
Have you found anything interesting in doing your research of Bette Davis about her style or her beauty?
"I find her so funny. She's unabashedly outspoken, she took on the studios, she was pretty violent to live with and you know, just had a number of failed marriages. I just watched All About Eve again the other day and she was great in that, because that was a big turning point for her. I like her. She's so tough and so vulnerable simultaneously. The difference between the two of them in how they've presented themselves to the outside world — Bette Davis was very straight to the point and Joan Crawford played a little bit more the victim. She was very smart also and got what she wanted in a completely different way.
"Jessica is just a consummate professional and so talented and beautiful. You don't get to work with women in this business — you hardly ever get to work with another women, I find. This is why The Meddler (Sarandon's latest movie) was so great. Rose (Byrne) and I got to work [together] and it was a female director."
You're very involved with so many wonderful causes — do you think this partnership with L'Oréal helps you bring more visibility to them? "The important thing [with becoming a spokesperson] was making sure that I didn't have to stop any of it. I was doing research on them and they were doing research on me and they said, 'No, we know you're involved that's one of the reasons we want you.' That was a good fit, because I couldn't be me and live in fear of taking a trip to Greece now to be in Lesbos [for the refugee crisis], is that going to be offensive? I can't be checking constantly. They seemed very cool about it.
"If anything, I'm hoping to cross-pollinate in some areas, especially where women are concerned. I haven't gotten to that point yet, because I've just been so busy, but I'm hoping that there's a partnership that can grow out of L'Oréal to where there's an organic natural flow into some of the women's things that I work with where they could throw a little something their way. That would be really nice."

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